Today I visited my nonna. It was a very, very difficult visit for me. She has dementia and is in a special care facility….one could call it a waiting room for death really…
While I was there, holding her extremely fragile hand, listening to her breath and feeling her somewhat vacant eyes glance at me, in between closing them for frequent cat naps, I couldn’t help but reminisce to her former self…her former spunky, incredibly strong self.
My nonna, who when I was in quite a bit of financial trouble, helped me hide my car in her garage (yes people, from the repo folks) and chased them away in the middle of the night with a broom shouting, “You no gonna take’a Shanna’s car!” (in her beautiful thick Italian accent).
My nonna, who used to hide money in her freezer and told me, “I no trust’a the banks…..”
My nonna, who made bootleg wine in her garage.
My nonna who made home-made, from scratch, fresh EVERYTHING…from pasta, to sauce, cookies, bread….you name it…she made it…and somehow…some way…she always had some readily available to whip up and serve within minutes for any guest who came over. And Lord forbid if you only ate one serving.
My nonna, who when I tried to sneak in, in the middle of the night (I lived with her in my twenties), would shout out that my dinner was in the microwave…in Italian. I think, even in her half sleep, she knew I was probably drunk, so I’m sure she chuckled to herself as I would stand there in the foyer, frozen, thinking, ‘what the hell did she say??’
My nonna, who taught me my most lived by lesson. That I fought with her on when she first told me, cause you know, I was like 21… full of shit and knew everything that she didn’t.
She taught me, that no matter what, a husband (or spouse) comes first.
“Shanna…nothing come’a before you husband. Not’a even you kids. Cause’a you kids move out and make’a they own family… the only person’a sitting across from’a you is you’a husband”.
I disagreed wholeheartedly 16 years ago. I mean come on…I was a single mother and no one was gonna come before my son…
Yet over the years, I realized, that not only is she right…but the example my husband and I demonstrate to our children, by putting each other first…shows what they should expect..and how they should treat…their spouses. Not to mention it helps to cultivate a very happy (not perfect) marriage.
I wish I hadn’t been so full of shit in my twenties…I couldv’a learned’a more from’a her.
Love you nonna.